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#pounditThursday, October 6, 2022

Kawhi Leonard

Ty Lue has concerning quote about Kawhi Leonard return

Kawhi Leonard in a warmup shirt

Jun 8, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) warms up prior to game one in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard missed all of last season after suffering an ACL injury during the 2021 playoffs. The Los Angeles Clippers forward appeared to be making solid progress in his recovery toward the tail end of last year, but a new quote from his coach is at least a little bit worrisome.

In an interview with Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints, Tyronn Lue deferred when asked if Leonard would be ready to play for the start of the regular season.

“I don’t know,” Lue chuckled when asked about Leonard’s status.

Lue might be deflecting or leaving himself some wiggle room here, but it is a little worrisome if Leonard will not be ready to play at all after roughly a year and a half out. It is also possible that the Clippers would rather be very cautious with their franchise forward, knowing that the goal is to find playoff success more than anything else.

Leonard certainly looked to be in great shape the last we saw of him. One would think he has to be close by the opener, though the Clippers will likely watch his workload carefully.

Kawhi Leonard looks absolutely jacked in new video

Kawhi Leonard in a warmup shirt

Jun 8, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) warms up prior to game one in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Now over a year removed from surgery to repair his partly torn ACL, Kawhi Leonard appears to be going full “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.”

A video went viral Tuesday of the LA Clippers star Leonard walking around in the gym looking like MuscleBob BuffPants. Leonard seemed to have put on significant muscle since we last saw him, especially in the lower body.

Leonard, now 31, missed all of last season as he continued to recover from his injury. Fans did get the chance to see Leonard during the occasional warmup session though, and he was definitely a lot skinnier than that.

The multi-time Finals MVP Leonard is officially listed at 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds. The Clippers look poised to compete for a title next year, and they could be getting back a version of Leonard that is far bigger than the one that they previously had.

Kawhi Leonard has taken major step in his recovery?

Kawhi Leonard in a warmup shirt

The LA Clippers will be fighting for an official playoff spot during this week’s play-in tournament. If they successfully clinch one, they may have a Kawhi Leonard-sized reinforcement waiting for them on the other side.

In an episode this week of his self-titled podcast, The Ringer’s Bill Simmons said that he has heard Leonard has progressed to three-on-three workouts in his recovery from injury. Simmons did add though that he has not yet heard that the former Finals MVP has done five-on-five workouts.

You can listen to the clip from Simmons here.

One can debate the merits of Simmons as a source on this one. But Simmons has been a Clippers’ season-ticket holder since at least the early “Lob City” days, so he is very often around the team.

For Leonard, who is now ten months removed from his partial ACL tear and nine months removed from surgery, to have progressed to playing three-on-three would be a major development. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue just said a few days ago that Leonard had yet to advance past individual workouts, so ramping up to three-on-three in such short order is a pretty big deal.

The smart bet should probably still be on Leonard not returning this season, especially since the 30-year-old star has historically been cautious with his health. But he recently had an intensive workout on film and appears to be staying ready for any possibility.

Photo: Jun 8, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) warms up prior to game one in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Reggie Jackson has bold comment about Kawhi Leonard injury

Kawhi Leonard in a warmup shirt

The Los Angeles Clippers are heading for the playoffs without Kawhi Leonard, but Reggie Jackson cannot help but imagine where they might be with him.

Leonard injured his ACL in last season’s playoffs against the Utah Jazz, and the Clippers lost the Western Conference Finals without him. Despite the loss of Leonard, the Clippers pushed the Phoenix Suns to six games, and were arguably within a few plays of advancing anyway.

For Jackson, the team’s point guard, it is not easy to look back and wonder what might have been.

“I’m not saying we’d be champs if he never got hurt,” Jackson said Friday, via Mark Medina of NBA.com. “But just with the way I’ve seen him approach the game, I was already in my mind envisioning a title.”

Does Jackson have a point? It’s difficult to say, but the Clippers surely would have had a better chance. They simply looked to be running out of gas against the Suns. Even a healthy Clippers team would have had a tough matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals, though.

Jackson probably should not get his hopes up for this year’s playoffs. Leonard does not sound extremely close to a return.

Photo: Jun 8, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) warms up prior to game one in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard had request for Clippers reporters

Kawhi Leonard in uniform

Kawhi Leonard was seen working out at the Los Angeles Clippers’ practice facility on Tuesday, and he had a request for the reporters in attendance.

Leonard was messing around before the team’s practice and then started to shoot. He was practicing some free throws, elbow jumpers and 3-pointers.

There was no video of Leonard shooting. So Cal News Group’s Mirjam Swanson shared that Leonard requested reporters not record him practicing while shooting.

Leonard is notoriously private, so that probably is part of why he didn’t want any video out. He also probably didn’t want any hype built up, which would result in pressure for him to return to action.

Leonard is recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee. A report earlier this year said there was optimism about Leonard returning this season. But time for him to return is very much running out.

Photo: Feb 26, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Clippers reportedly losing hope of Kawhi Leonard return

Kawhi Leonard in his Clippers uniform

The Los Angeles Clippers have downplayed a possible Kawhi Leonard return throughout the season, but they had not completely closed the door on him joining the team. That may be changing as the season nears its end.

The Clippers are privately beginning to lose hope in Leonard playing this season, according to Farbod Esnaashari of AllClippers. Leonard is still trying to work his way back, but the Clippers are committed to not rushing him. The fact that the team appears destined for one of the play-in games has only led to further questions regarding whether it’s even worth pushing Leonard back to action.

Leonard actually looked great this week doing pregame shooting drills, raising hopes of a potential return. The mood within the organization seems far less optimistic, though.

To be clear, this has been the Clippers’ stance publicly for some time. Part of this was probably down to managing expectations. Any optimism behind the scenes seems to be dissipating now.

Photo: Feb 26, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard looks pretty good in new workout video

Kawhi Leonard warming up

Videos of Kawhi Leonard in the gym these days are about as rare as Bigfoot videos. That is what made the latest footage of Leonard particularly notable.

The injured LA Clippers star warmed up and shot around in a seldom-seen public workout prior to Tuesday’s game against the Golden State Warriors. Leonard looked pretty good during the session, hitting a couple of jumpers in a row and getting some solid lift while shooting. Take a look.

The Clippers themselves tweeted out a different angle of Leonard’s workout.

NBA insider Chris Haynes reported that Leonard’s “rigorous” session lasted for over an hour but that the Clippers are still being cautious with his health.

The ex-Finals MVP Leonard is nearing the nine-month mark since suffering a partial right ACL tear and eight months since undergoing surgery. Despite missing both Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers have managed to stay above .500 at 34-33, placing themselves firmly in the playoff hunt.

Leonard recently offered an interesting hint about his health as well. While much is still unknown about Leonard’s status, his workout video this week definitely looked plenty encouraging.

Photo: Jun 8, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) warms up prior to game one in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Did Kawhi Leonard drop hint about his health situation?

Kawhi Leonard in his Clippers uniform

Kawhi Leonard is a man of few words, so it is worth paying attention to whenever he does speak.

The LA Clippers star was in attendance for All-Star festivities in Cleveland over the weekend. On Sunday, Leonard was honored as one of the 75 best players in league history. As Leonard met backstage with some NBA greats, Golden State Warriors legend Rick Barry asked him if he was feeling better.

“Oh yeah, I’m feeling a lot better,” replied Leonard. “I’m tryna get back out there, man.”

Check out the video.

That sounds like a man who is trying to play this season. The five-time All-Star Leonard is now over seven months removed from surgery to repair a partial tear of his right ACL. There is about a month-and-a-half left to go in the regular season, and the eighth-place Clippers are hoping that Leonard can still come back at some point.

There was recently a more pessimistic update about Leonard’s status, but that one did not come from Leonard himself. While the 30-year-old star is known for being cautious with his health, it does not sound like he is ready to punt away this season just yet.

Photo: Feb 26, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Did Tyronn Lue leak Kawhi Leonard injury news?

Kawhi Leonard in his Clippers uniform

Tyronn Lue may have tipped the LA Clippers’ hand a bit when it comes to the health of Kawhi Leonard.

The Clippers defeated the rival Los Angeles Lakers in a nailbiter Thursday night. After the game, Lue complimented the fight that his team continues to show while shorthanded. Lue also made an off-hand remark about Leonard, saying, “We know Kawhi’s probably not gonna come back.”

When pressed further, Lue clarified that he is not a doctor and that he was remaining hopeful that both Leonard and George would be back this season.

Here is the full video of Lue’s remarks, per Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints, so that you can see the context for yourself.

Lue’s comment is a bit more pessimistic than some other recent indications about Leonard’s health. The five-time All-Star suffered a partially torn right ACL almost eight months ago, but there appeared to be real hope that Leonard could be back for the Clippers this season.

Granted, this could be Lue taking on a traditional head coach’s mentality by preparing for the worst and focusing only on the players who are available. The Clippers also just made a trade that indicates a plan to stay competitive this season. But at this point, it sounds like Lue is not expecting Leonard to return during the 2021-22 campaign.

Photo: Feb 26, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Clippers teammate gives update on Kawhi Leonard, Paul George potential returns

Kawhi Leonard in his Clippers uniform

One LA Clippers player is revealing when the cavalry might be coming.

Speaking this week in an interview with French outlet First Team, Clippers forward Nicolas Batum offered an update on the potential return dates of stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

“We hope that after the All-Star break or early March they will come back,” said Batum, according to a translation from SI’s Farbod Esnaashari. “Before leaving for the trip Tuesday morning, I went to do my COVID test and went to the gym. I saw Kawhi sweating, working out. He’s trying to come back. I don’t know if it will be this year, I am hoping so but I don’t know. If we get them in the next six weeks … We have a base of players around them who have a good level.”

Leonard continues to recover from a partially torn ACL suffered during the playoffs last June. There was recently another positive update on his status as well. With George, the shorter-term situation is a bit more uncertain. He has not played since December with a torn UCL in his shooting elbow. The Clippers are hoping that it heals with time off, but there is always the possibility of eventual surgery.

Of course, much will depend on where the Clippers are at in the standings. They have understandably struggled without both their stars and are 23-25 on the year. But the team is fortunate to be in a weak Western Conference this season, which is a rarity. The Clippers are currently ninth in the conference and should make the play-in tournament regardless.

Ultimately, the Clippers’ roster moves before the Feb. 10 trade deadline will reveal how optimistic they are about Leonard and/or George returning. A recent report shed light on their approach heading into the deadline.

Photo: Feb 26, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports